Too premature to lift booze ban and could trigger third wave, says Cape opposition
Cape Town - Opposition parties say the province’s campaign in support of lifting the ban on the sale of alcohol is premature and fear relaxing the regulations too soon could trigger a third wave.
EFF provincial chairperson Melikhaya Xego said: “South Africa and the Western Cape are not out of danger, yet. If these restrictions are relaxed or removed, then we are more likely to see increases in the number of infections.”
“The only reason we are experiencing a steady decline in terms of Covid-19 infections is due to the restrictions currently put in place such as the alcohol ban,” said Xego.
Good party secretary general Brett Herron said: “What is crucial is for the Western Cape Government to outline its plans and preparedness for the inevitable third and fourth waves.”
“They dropped the ball after the first wave when they closed down temporary hospitals and reduced the bed space we needed for the second wave. Their rush to appear back to normal and to declare victory over the virus led directly to the need to impose the current restrictions,” said Herron.
Leader of the ANC provincial opposition Cameron Dugmore said: “The ban and curfew have greatly assisted in not only slowing the spread but have dramatically reduced trauma in our hospitals. This has created less pressure on bed space for Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 patients. The ban has also reduced the pressure on our health workers without a doubt.”
“We are not calling for the days of prohibition, but we support a particular strategy to bring economic relief to the sector to ensure that workers are assisted. That engagement is critical and must involve all role-players in the industry,” said Dugmore.
However, a Heideveld-based social worker Danielle Moosajie said: “It’s important to note that even with the alcohol ban, we've noticed that people are still accessing alcohol or other drugs in our alternate economy.”
Moosajie who runs an NGO called Arise, said: “We have seen some of our clients experiment with drugs because alcohol is not so easily available. When we put a blanket ban on one thing, it facilitates increased value of the illegal product.”
This week Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz, Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo and Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer, both made statements urging for the lifting of the alcohol ban. This follows last week’s request by Premier Alan Winde to the national Health Minister Zweli Mkhize to lift the ban.
DA provincial spokesperson on premier and constitutional affairs Ricardo Mackenzie said: “It is now evident that the current restrictions should be reviewed so that they do not become a blunt instrument which does more harm than good for the residents of the province.”
The provincial health department has been tracking the correlation between alcohol restrictions and hospitalisations and they have previously shown that pressure on the healthcare system increased and reduced in direct correlation with alcohol sales.
Provincial head of health Dr Keith Cloete said: “As a health department we support the gradual relaxation of the alcohol restrictions. We are very clear and very mindful that you cannot have indefinite total restrictions on alcohol.”
“We cannot have restrictions that bring economic activity to a complete halt, because the negative impact on the healthcare system is even worse when economic activity is not allowed to happen,” said Cloete.